If reality killed the Sixties dream at Altamont in 1969 the decade that followed was a dark sobriety, a hangover that made the world angrier and sore. The quote above was from Michael Lydon, a writer surveying the Altamont landscape and it occurred to him that perhaps the era of Woodstock was really coming to a close. It is also the perfect two lines of introduction to the 1970s a decade that returned the US to a conservatism of the ‘Silent Majority’. In Northern Ireland the ‘Troubles’ exploded and in Britain the optimism that fuelled the post-war era was getting strangled by recession.

1979 in particular saw the rise of the philosophies that would dominate the early 21st Century. In Iran the Shah was overthrown and replaced by Ayatollah Khomeini and a hardline politico-theocracy established. China through Deng abandoned Maoist principles and began the embrace of capitalism and Russia invaded Afganistan putting in motion events that would eventually lead to 9-11 and alter the direction of the 21st Century. In Britain, Margaret Thatcher was elected and changed the political landscape forever. In 1979 in Derry a boy failed the 11-plus.

1979 was the threshold onto the laboratory of our modern age. This website is host to the 1979 Project: the creation of an online textual research ‘laboratory’ for the work of editor and curator Gregory McCartney. As a blog it will feature essays (Tales) and shorter considerations (Notions) discussing relevant subjects and interesting tangential topics from poetry/art worlds and beyond.

The purpose of this project is to lay bare the thought processes and geneses behind my practice and projects. The laboratory concept has been used in the visual arts mainly as a type of open studio where people can call in and see work in progress, rather than only getting to engage with the finished object. Here I am proposing to extend (as Abridged does) visual art curatorial methodologies to the poetry/literary world. The idea is to create a hub that will articulate the influences behind my work through discussions, reviews, interviews with writers/artists who operate in the same sphere.

This project was made possible by support from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland through its ACES programme.